I’m not surprised by how many people want to pick my brain about the import/export business. They’re usually interested in running their own business, getting in on the globalization revolution, and traveling the world as a way of making a living. What does surprise me is how many people walk away from the conversation and never do anything about it.
I think they must be intimidated. Import/export seems like the kind of thing that massive corporations do. It’s only for companies with Everest-sized piles of money, banks of lawyers, and their own shipping fleet. The rules, international laws, and tricks of the trade must be too complicated for a self-employed businessperson.
None of that is true. In fact, now the first thing I tell people who ask about the business – before they can run off in fear – is that import/export is easy.
When I started, I wasn’t vaulted into success by coming from a wealthy family, or a corporate background. I didn’t even have much business school under my belt. I started from the bottom and made my own career. I got where I was by what I knew, not who I knew.
Most of the people I talk to have more natural advantages than I did. Yet they still let their dreams die because they think they can’t master import/export.
That’s too bad. If only they knew how easy it was.
Of course, you have to learn the ropes. You have to learn how to use the tools available to you. I didn’t build my own company without taking advantage of the infrastructure of international business. I had to find out that help is out there, and the system that’s in place is just made to help entrpreneurs.
I learned how to use freight forwarders. I learned how to find agents in the countries I imported from. I learned how to deal with manufacturers, so that they made my products to the level of quality I expected. I learned how to cultivate good relationships with my business partners, so that I had people all over the world people looking out for my business, and they had me looking out for theirs.
Sure, anyone who wants to get in to the business will have to understand things like bookkeeping, insurance, and financing. But those things aren’t difficult if you just do a little homework. In fact, learning how to do those things in the trenches is easier than taking a class on learning how to do those things.
If there were an excuse available to anyone, my dyslexia was it. How can a kid who had a horrible time getting through school build an import/export business? I’ll tell you how: I wanted it enough to make it work.
And that is the only thing standing between my friends who are thinking about getting into international business, and their own success.
A little bit of homework, a little elbow grease, willingness to work hard, and you can have your own import/export business. And in the end, you’re going to find out what I did about international business: it’s easy.